CHICAGO (WLS) --The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations to prevent a shortage this winter.
You might only think of someone needing blood because of trauma - like a car crash injury or a gunshot wound - but the need is far more widespread.
Blood is often needed as a routine part of treatment for many illnesses, including cancer. Hospitals can have a hard time keeping up with demand.
"I was diagnosed the first time at the age of 26. Shocking, right? No family history," said Tina Turner, a breast cancer survivor.
Turner, 43, is celebrating a milestone - five years in remission after beating breast cancer for a second time. While in treatment, she was often in need of a boost for her white blood cell count.
"If you're a chemotherapy patient and you didn't have this blood product that can boost your white blood cell count, you can really be exposed to serious complications. So what can be a common cold in you as an average person, can turn into pneumonia or something more drastic for me," Turner said.
For the past 15 years, 77-year-old Michael Paris has had multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that attacks the blood. Transfusions are a part of his routine care.
"Without it I'm a goner in a very short time," Paris said.
Doctors say the need for blood donations is great because there is no medical alternative.
"There is no synthetic blood. There have been scientists who have tried to invent synthetic blood but blood carries oxygen and that's the one trick to making blood that's difficult or impossible to overcome," said Dr. Dino Rumoro, Rush University Medical Center. "The only way we can get blood is from people who decide to voluntarily donate."
For patients in need, a blood donation is a gift of life.
"I need the support of people who are around me, people who are good enough to give blood," Paris said.
We're teaming up with the American Red Cross for the ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive to help. Donating blood only takes about an hour and it could save someone's life.
Join ABC7 Meteorologist Cheryl Scott at Union Station and Eyewitness News Anchor Hosea Sanders at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel to donate blood. You can click here to make an appointment.
The ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive
Date: Jan. 20 at Union Station in Chicago and the Drake in Oak Brook
Hours: Jan. 20 from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. at Union Station - Great Hall, 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago
Jan. 20 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at The Drake Oak Brook Hotel, 2301 York Road, Oak Brook.